Top Chef’s Melissa King, celebrity chef Lazarus Lynch and more mentor queer youth on career readiness in culinary industry for new series
LOS ANGELES, CA. (March 29, 2023) – Today, the It Gets Better Project announces the release of a new original web-series “The Assignment,” a career and skill-readiness series pairing queer youth with LGBTQ+ professionals in the culinary industry. With nearly 50% of LGBTQ+ youth employed either full or part-time and more than one in three experiencing some form of workplace discrimination, The Assignment serves up LGBTQ+ professionals to offer mentorship and inspiration for young people who are beginning to sharpen their skills in the culinary world or explore food industry related careers. The series was created with generous support from the Taco Bell Foundation. Episode one is available to view now at itgetsbetter.org.
The Assignment features a host of noted LGBTQ+ professionals with successful careers in the food, decor, and the health industry. A finalist on Bravo’s Top Chef: Boston Season 12 and the winner and fan favorite of Top Chef All Stars: Los Angeles Season 17, Melissa King has carved out a name for herself as one of the most exciting talents in the Bay Area; two time Chopped-champion, multi-hyphenate Lazarus Lynch (chef, musician, mental health advocate, filmmaker) made history as the first Black, Queer chef to cook at the Met Gala; Sophie Collé is a self-taught, New York-based designer whose Instagram presence has caught the eye of Architectural Digest and Domino Magazine; and SuperJuiced Oakland co-owner Rana Halpern’s vision that food justice is social justice has made the queer, Black and Brown-owned organic juice business an inclusive experience in Oakland.
“In pairing well-known LGBTQ+ professionals in the culinary and design industry with young people who are curious about cooking or creating spaces that feel authentic to them, the conversations went far beyond what technical skills the mentors could offer,” said Eboni Munn, Director of Brand Marketing, Content & Creative. “Watching the pairs connect over shared experiences of identity, cultural backgrounds, LGBTQ+ journeys, and creating space in male-dominated industries, reminds us all that life is a journey of constantly learning and relearning, moving between mentor and mentee interchangeably. ‘The Assignment’ offers safe spaces for both the mentors and mentees to teach, learn, and connect”
Projects that center on career-readiness and amplify marginalized voices are of particular interest to the Taco Bell Foundation, which has awarded more than $150 million in scholarships to youth-serving nonprofit organizations focused on education since 1992. Since 2022, The Taco Bell Foundation has generously invested over $200,000 in the It Gets Better Project’s mission to uplift, empower and connect LGBTQ+ youth around the globe.
“At the Taco Bell Foundation, we have made it our mission to fuel every young person’s boldest ambition to create good, and we are honored to play a role in bringing ‘The Assignment’ to life,” said Jennifer Bradbury, Executive Director of the Taco Bell Foundation. “We are energized and excited to see what comes out of this web-series and look forward to continuing to work with the It Gets Better Project to champion and inspire the next generation.”
As with all original series from the It Gets Better Project, The Assignment will be accompanied by a free to access educational guide (EduGuide) to help facilitate conversation beyond each episode. The Assignment follows the successful November release of the original series Industry, focusing on LGBTQ+ people working in S.T.E.M. and the Anthem Award-winning series Queer Sex Ed. Further information about the It Gets Better Project’s work is available at www.itgetsbetter.org
About the It Gets Better Project
The It Gets Better Project is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that strives to uplift, empower and connect LGBTQ+ youth around the globe. Created in 2010 as the result of one of the most successful viral video campaigns in YouTube’s history, the It Gets Better Project provides critical support and hope to LGBTQ+ youth around the world by leveraging the power of media to reach millions of people each year. The project has expanded its origins in storytelling and media to include educational resources through It Gets Better EDU and reaches 19 countries outside of the U.S. through It Gets Better Global.
The project has garnered support from President Joe Biden, former President Barack Obama, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, along with numerous celebrities, including Kelly Clarkson, Gabrielle Union, Zachary Quinto, Mj Rodriguez, Josie Totah, and Gigi Gorgeous. More than 750,000 people have taken the It Gets Better pledge to share messages of hope and speak up against intolerance. Please visit www.itgetsbetter.org for more information, and join the conversation on all social platforms @itgetsbetter.
About Taco Bell Foundation
Taco Bell Foundation, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) public charity that helps break down barriers to educate and inspire the next generation of America’s young leaders. Since 1992, the Taco Bell Foundation has reached more than 5 million young people across the country and has awarded more than $130 million in grants and scholarships, focused on education and career readiness. For more information about the Taco Bell Foundation, visit www.tacobellfoundation.org.
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